Mindfulness and Wellbeing

According to research published in the journal Environment & Behaviour, people who spend time watching aquariums and fish tanks could see improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing.

Experts from our charity, the Ocean Conservation Trust, alongside Plymouth University and the University of Exeter conducted research on the health benefits, assessing people’s physical and mental responses to tanks containing varying levels of fish and the team found that viewing aquarium displays led to noticeable reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, and that higher numbers of fish helped to hold people’s attention for longer and improve their moods.

Whilst spending time in ‘natural’ environments has been shown to provide calming effects on humans, there has been very little research into the role that underwater settings could have on health and wellbeing.

Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms. Our study shows there is robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing and we have had a great response from our weekly ‘Aquarium Relax’ videos, which have really helped people feel calm during a time of uncertainty.

Research was conducted when the National Marine Aquarium refurbished one of its main exhibits – in a large 550,000 litre tank – and began a phased introduction of different fish species. They were able to assess the mood, heart rate and blood pressure of study participants in precisely the same setting as fish numbers in the exhibit gradually increased.

The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the UK’s largest aquarium, located in Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth. It is run by the Ocean Conservation Trust, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the Ocean.

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